What You Should Know About FDA’s Pet Food Investigation

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The FDA updated their findings in a pet food investigation they began a year ago.

In July 2018, the FDA announced that it had begun investigating reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods, many labeled as “grain-free.” The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, continue to investigate this potential association. Recently, the FDA has updated their report, calling the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs “a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.”

Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM (515 canine reports, 9 feline reports). Approximately 222 of these were reported between December 1, 2018 and April 30, 2019 (219 canine reports, 3 feline reports). Some of these reports involved more than one affected animal from the same household.
  • DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, which can lead to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen (congestive heart failure). If caught early, heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification.
  • DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because many of the reported cases occurred in breeds of dogs not typically genetically prone to the disease.
  • There is a range of different brands and formulas included in the reports and some reports named multiple brands and/or formulas. The FDA has compiled a spreadsheet of all DCM case reports submitted through April 30, 2019.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the U.S. have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM. It’s not known how commonly dogs develop DCM, but the increase in reports to FDA signal a potential increase in cases of DCM in dogs not genetically predisposed.

What Should You Do?

If you have concerns about your pet food, speak with your vet. In response to the FDA’s updated report, Three Dog Bakery, (local dog bakery offering treats, food, toys and more for dogs) says that choosing a pet food is a very personal choice and they are happy to help pet owners transition to a new food brand if they want.

“Our biggest takeaway from the update: the FDA is reporting trends in the data with this
update, but clearly state that they have not concluded if there is a dietary link or
what that dietary link might be,” Three Dog Bakery said in a statement.

For the owners and staff at Three Dog Bakery, they’ve opted not to alter their dogs’ diets due to the FDA report. Here’s why:

1. While heartbroken for those families affected by DCM diagnoses, the overwhelming
majority of dogs on diets like Orijen, Acana, Fromm, and Zignature in our families
and in our customer base lead very healthy lives.

2. Grain free foods came about as an alternative because so many dogs were
experiencing serious health issues resulting from foods that contained highly
processed ingredients like wheat, corn and animal by products. As dogs transitioned
to foods with more thoughtful ingredient panels and sourcing, their health situations
improved. We have seen this firsthand with our own dogs as well as our customers’.
The brands we carry were chosen for their quality ingredient panel as well as
transparent sourcing.

3. We have dogs of all shapes, sizes, ages, and sensitivities in our extended families
who have not altered diets and continued to be healthy. Additionally, we have
consulted with multiple personal veterinarians regarding DCM and our dogs’ diets, and have not been recommended to make changes because our dogs do well on the foods we have selected.

4. Each of the brands that we carry in our stores is dedicated to the health of the dogs
on their foods. Each have been responsive regarding this investigation and have
independently made adjustments to their foods, conducted additional feeding trials,
and been open about their ingredient composition all out of an abundance of
caution. To our knowledge, there are no other brands named in these cases that
have been as forthcoming or concerned about proactively protecting our companion

If you are worried and would like to make a change to your dog’s pet food, Three Dog Bakery has lots of options and their staff is available to answer questions and help you find the right match for your family.

Three Dog Bakery has two locations in Middle Tennessee: 1556 W McEwen Dr #112, Franklin, TN 37067 & 1982 Providence Pkwy #102, Mt Juliet, TN 37122.